VISIT DENVER’s 9th annual Denver Restaurant Week (DRW), presented by Lexus, broke all records in 2013, including setting a new record of 355 participating restaurants, 5 percent more than 2012. This is the most restaurants to ever participate in any restaurant week in the nation, according to VISIT DENVER, founder and organizer of the event.

The culinary festival was held Feb. 23 to March 8, 2013 with participating restaurants offering a multi-course meal for the “mile high” fixed price of $52.80 for two, or $26.40 for one.

Based on a survey of participating restaurants, a record 436,650 meals were served during DRW 2013, up 8 percent over the 404,400 total meals served in 2012. Traffic on the DenverRestaurantWeek.com website saw almost 7 million page views, up slightly from last year. This year, 31 percent of the traffic came from a mobile device, reflecting national trends on the way people access information today. A total of 85 restaurants participated in DRW for the first time in 2013.

“The record-setting numbers for Denver Restaurant Week 2013, both in terms of the number of restaurants participating and the number of diners eating out, show how popular and important this event has become to residents and visitors,” said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER.

Denver Restaurant Week began in 2005 with the goal of stimulating local restaurant business, while also creating national “buzz” about Denver’s dining scene.

“We are particularly happy to see nearly 7 million website views and a 5 percent increase in unique page views because one of the primary reasons we put on Denver Restaurant Week is to create conversation and awareness about the city’s growing culinary scene. We don’t just want to stimulate restaurant business for two weeks, we want to increase restaurant business all year-round,” Scharf said.

Each of the 7 million page views reflects someone looking at a restaurant menu. “The average person looked at eight menus every time they came to the site, learning more about the many places there are to dine out in Denver,” Scharf said.

Scharf stated that all tourism funds generated from DRW go to marketing Denver as a convention and tourism destination. “We are a non-profit agency, so we don’t make money from an event. Every penny that VISIT DENVER generates goes towards bringing visitors to Denver. In 2011, overnight visitors spent $669 million in Denver restaurants,” Scharf said.

VISIT DENVER is currently doing a three-month, 6-page national convention promotion with FOOD & WINE magazine for a select group of meeting planners. “Denver had its second best year ever for conventions in 2012, and we have more conventions on the books for 2013. The ability to offer fine dining is an important element in soliciting future meetings, so we are putting a lot of emphasis on Denver restaurants in all our tourism and convention marketing, which are of course helped by events like Denver Restaurant Week,” Scharf said.

He acknowledged it’s a challenge finding a common formula that works for all 355 different restaurants, which includes restaurants at all price levels, from local independent fine dining and upscale steak houses to neighborhood eateries. “For nearly a decade, in an up and down economy, we’ve managed to keep the same price point, grow the number of participating restaurants every year, grow the number of meals served every year, and increase from one week to two weeks,” Scharf said. “For our 10th anniversary in 2014, we’re talking to the restaurants and we hope to come up with some new programs that work for the restaurants in the current economy and offer even more exciting options and opportunities for Denver diners,” Scharf said.

Denver Restaurant Week 2013 would not have been possible without the generous support of sponsors including: Lexus, Alamos Winery, Edna Valley Vineyard, Mirassou Winery, Louis M. Martini Winery, William Hill Winery, US Foods, Frontier Airlines, Johnsons & Wales University, The Denver Post, 5280 Magazine, 9News, Westword, Open Table, RTD, the Colorado Restaurant Association and the Downtown Denver Partnership Business Improvement District.

For more information, visit: DenverRestaurantWeek.com or EatDrinkDenver.com, a new VISIT DENVER-built site that offers a fresh perspective on Denver’s foodie scene to visitors and locals alike.